Science Communication Minor

a student shoots photos in a marshy field as part of the SOJC's Science and Memory program

We spend billions annually on science, and our 21st-century way of life depends on its insights and new technologies. But scientific knowledge needs to be connected to communities, decision makers, and the public. The UO School of Journalism and Communication, through the Center for Science Communication Research (SCR), is offering a science communication minor to give students the knowledge and skills they need to work on the science communication issues that are critical to individuals and society, from climate change to public health.

What Is Science Communication?

Science communication is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses both the research and practice of communicating scientific findings to diverse audiences, including the public and policymakers. It seeks to enhance the connections between science and society, solve problems through relationship building, and move the needle on issues that affect all our lives.

Is the Science Communication Minor Right for You?

Are you interested in improving how scientists and journalists communicate science to the public? Want to learn ways to share your research with other scientists? Or do you hope to create better stories using science? Pursuing a minor in science communication can help you achieve your goals.

The science communication minor is open to students of all majors. Through a series of flexible courses, you can probe the intersections of science, communication, technology, and media. Coursework focuses on the most pressing science communication issues of our time, blending theory and practical skills while helping you explore careers that rely on science communication.

What Our Students Are Up To

Athena Lackides aimed for the stars by choosing science communication as the minor to complement her biological anthropology major. Then she parlayed a NASA internship into a fellowship at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, where she will study climate change. “My SOJC science communication courses provided a solid foundation for me in preparation for my internship, sharpened my narrative communication skills, and introduced me to a breadth of communication theories and techniques,” said Lackides.

As the assistant editor of The Arithmetic of Compassion website, Lauren Hodges works with UO Professor of Psychology Paul Slovic to accomplish the entity’s mission: “overcoming obstacles to action in the face of the world’s most urgent problems.” To that end, the science communication minor has helped Hodges understand complex ecological relationships, break down complex scientific material, and convey compelling messages—all of which helped her in her job writing and designing for UO’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

How It Works

As a student enrolled in the science communication minor, you will take courses in the School of Journalism and Communication and other UO programs that teach the science of science communication, the cutting-edge research happening in the field today, and a variety of methods for developing and producing science stories.

Credits: The minor requires 24 credits that you can complete at any point in your college career.

Classes: Coursework consists of three required courses and three elective courses. Elective courses cover a range of topics so you can build a curriculum best suited to your interests in research and/or story production.

Required Courses (12 credits/3 courses)

2 UO science courses: You can take any two courses that meet UO’s science core education requirement. These science courses must be graded and passed with a C or better. We recommend completing these two courses before taking JCOM 385.

JCOM 385 The Science of Science Communication: This course explores the basics of the growing field of the science of science communication. Students will examine science communication issues and the research being done to understand how the public connects (or doesn’t) with science messaging.

Elective Courses & Experiential Learning Opportunities (12 credits/3 courses)

You can choose any three courses from the following list. Topics courses are repeatable for credit if the topic changes.

JCOM 410 Living In Our Valley: This place-based storytelling class allows students from various majors to explore different multimedia techniques and how to communicate through a variety of mediums. It focuses on diverse environmental issues in the Willamette Valley.

JCOM 438 The Science Story: The Science Story is an advanced storytelling class offered each year by Professor of Practice Torsten Kjellstrand and guest mentor Dennis Dimick. This place-based reporting course focuses on the landscape of the southern Willamette Valley. The instructor aims to help students make sense of the place we live in, how we have shaped this landscape, how it has shaped us, and what this means.

JCOM 485 Science Communication and Decision Making: This course explores case studies and readings in areas such as decision science, numeracy, and health and environmental communication. Students will be asked to think carefully about decisions and judgments that they and others make, and how strategic communication can harness decision making so that complex science is useful in improving individual and societal well-being.

JCOM 486 Environmental Communication Strategies and Case Studies: This course will allow you to explore how public relations and advertising have played a role in the public understanding of major environmental issues. In addition, a portion of this course will be focused on interpersonal communication and having constructive climate conversations.

JCOM 487 Ecological and Social Justice Communication: This class is designed to introduce students to environmental justice communication. Students will spend their time understanding how environmental and social justice has been communicated about and strategies for achieving a more justice-oriented world through improved and accessible communications.

JCOM 488 Topics in Science of Science Communication (titles will vary): These topics courses take a deeper dive into issues related to science communication, including more advanced exploration of health communication, strategic science communication, and environmental communication.

JCOM 489 Topics in Science Communication Production (titles will vary): These topics courses focus on creating stories about science, with an emphasis on incorporating science communication research into the process of tailoring story strategies to specific audiences. These courses are dedicated to empowering student discovery through science storytelling using various multimedia techniques.

UO science course: One of your three elective courses can be a pre-approved 300-/400-level course from another UO science subject. To be approved, the courses need to have some aspect of communication or engagement. You can reach out to to get a course pre-approved.

Register for the Science Communication Minor